Ai Weiwei

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei (ī´ wāwā), 1957–, Chinese artist, architect, filmmaker, and political activist. He is the son of poet Ai Ch'ing, who was internally exiled (1958–76) to work camps with his family. Ai subsequently studied at the Beijing Film Institute, began to make avant-garde art, and became politically active. From 1981 to 1993 he lived in New York City and studied at the Parsons Inst. of Design. In the mid-1990s he and two other artists published an influential trilogy of books on avant-garde Chinese artists. Ai began to attract international attention with such works as the photo tryptich Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn (1995) and his reassembled Ming and Ch'ing artifacts, which embody his recurring themes of destruction and recreation. He opened an art atelier and architectural practice and helped design the Beijing Olympics "Bird's Nest" stadium (2008), but soon disassociated himself from the games. His best-known works include the backpacks and text installations (2009) commemorating the children who died in poorly built schools in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake and the Tate Modern's installation (2010) of millions of porcelain sunflower seeds.

Ai began writing a blog in 2005, which by 2008 had become a venue for political satire and dissidence. In 2009 a severe police beating required emergency surgery; the next year he was placed under house arrest. In 2011 the government razed his Shanghai studio and he was arrested, ostensibly for tax evasion, detained secretly and interrogated for 81 days, then had his travel restricted; he was not permitted to travel abroad until 2015. His design firm was also fined $2.4 million for tax evasion. In 2012 the government revoked his business license, forcing his architectural firm to close.

Ai created six half-scale fiberglass dioramas depicting his detention; smuggled out of China, they were exhibited in Venice in 2013. A multimedia exhibition made for Alcatraz (2014–15) focused on human rights and on prisoners of conscience and featured portraits of prisoners made with toy plastic bricks. In 2017 Ai and architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron created Hansel & Gretel at New York City's Park Ave. Armory; the interactive "dystopian playground" used drones, infrared cameras, and other devices to track attendees and explore contemporary surveillance culture.

In 2016–17 Ai created several works and performances in Greece, Germany, and Denmark to protest Europe's treatment of Syrian refugees. In New York City, Ai Weiwei: Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (2017) focused on past and present refugees and immigrants, with more than 300 works citywide and three large sculptures: Gilded Cage, a 24-ft-tall (7-m) gold cagelike structure in Central Park; Arch, a taller steel cage with a mirrored passage in Washington Square; and Circle Fence, tubular stainless-steel netting surrounding the Unisphere in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. His documentary Human Flow (2017) explores the plight of Syrian and other refugees worldwide.

See L. Ambrozy, ed., Ai Weiwei's Blog: Writings, Interviews, and Digital Rants, 2006–2009 (2011) and L. Warsh, ed., Weiwei-isms (2012); study by K. Smith et al. (2009); B. Martin, Hanging Man: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei (2013); A. Klayman, dir. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (documentary, 2012).

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Ai Weiwei
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.